Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A memory jogged

I was reading a blog post about yesterday's earthquake, when I suddenly flashbacked to July 16, 1990. I know most of my students don't remember the big quake of 1990 because they were only toddlers back then, but I was already in 4th grade (yeah, yeah, I know I'm ancient), and I was sitting in class when the tremors began. I thought the annoying girl seated behind me was shaking my chair, so I turned around to snap at her, but then I saw the entire freaking room convulsing like crazy. People started screaming in terror, and to this day the look of pure petrification on our teacher's face is stamped on my memory. All hell broke loose as students and faculty started streaming out of classrooms, evacuating the building in a mad, panicked rush. I remember meeting my cousin Joy at the gate, and she was crying in fear. I think I was too shell-shocked to weep.

The 7.8 magnitude quake spared our school, but toppled the Hyatt Hotel in Baguio, and in Baguio alone the death toll surpassed 1,000 people. I still remember watching news footage of rescue workers searching for survivors in the rubble. It was then that I learned what to do in the event of an earthquake, about the "triangle of life", and other emergency and survival techniques, which our parents, paranoid about aftershocks, kept drilling them into our heads. My mind's eye can still see my dad demonstrating how to stand under a doorway, and my mom pointing out the sturdiest tables in the house underneath which we could duck and hide. I can't believe it's already been 17 years since then.

So where were you guys at the time?


At Thursday, November 29, 2007, Blogger Sean said...

Yesterday I was in a training session on the 20th floor of an office building, wondering if that strange dizzy feeling was mere boredom, or if the floor really was moving under my feet.

In 1990, though, I think I was home early from school and reading the newspaper when the first tremors came around. I just sat there and stared at the room as it shook, and it took about an hour for me to get back to reading the paper again.

At Thursday, November 29, 2007, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

My brother was home at the time too. I remember our yaya recounting how when the house started shaking, for a split second she was torn between saving the huge porcelain vase in our living room, or scooping up Shoti and running for cover. Haha.


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